In an effort to encourage employment over welfare dependency, the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) announced Wednesday, that it will allow a federal waiver to expire. The waiver currently allows adults, ages 18 to 49, who are capable of working but who are not employed and who do not have dependent children to receive food assistance. Those individuals currently benefitting from the waiver will be required to meet a minimum work requirement or be enrolled in a federally-approved job training program.
“We know that employment is the most effective way to escape poverty,” DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said. “As long as federal work requirements are met, no one will lose food assistance; the law only affects those individuals who are capable of working and have no dependent children.”
Food assistance is known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The federal SNAP work requirement was initially implemented as part of the 1996 welfare reform package. The law stated that able-bodied adults without children would be eligible for the SNAP benefits three out of every 36 months unless they met the mandated work requirement which is a minimum of 20-hours per week. The 2009 stimulus bill allowed all states to waive work requirements for able-bodied adults with no dependents. Since that time, states have individually been permitted to continue using the waiver if certain United States Department of Labor criteria are met. Kansas no longer meets those criteria because of its low unemployment rate. The State was offered a 12-month look-back, meaning we could use an earlier higher unemployment rate to continue the waiver.
An estimated 20,000 Kansas adults currently benefit from the waiver, which will expire Sept. 30. These individuals will have three months, beginning Oct. 1, to find employment to continue receiving their current food assistance. They will be required to work no less than 20 hours per week or be enrolled in a federally-approved job training program.
Other states that do not utilize the waiver include Delaware, New Hampshire, Vermont, Wyoming and Utah. Oklahoma and Wisconsin have also made it known that they plan to allow the waiver to expire this month.
The Kansas Department of Commerce works closely with DCF to help individuals find employment and we will continue to collaborate to help those affected obtain jobs so that food assistance is continued or no longer needed.
“Over the past several years, Kansas has built a great business environment. As a result, our state is enjoying strong job growth. We’re excited to help Kansans take advantage of new opportunities through KANSASWORKS and other workforce development services,” Kansas Department of Commerce Secretary Pat George said.
According to the Kansas Department of Labor, unemployment is the lowest it has been since 2008.
“There are many opportunities for Kansans in a wide range of fields,” Kansas Department of Labor Secretary Lana Gordon said.
Secretary Gilmore and Commerce Director of Employment Services Mike Beene will be available for questions during a news conference this afternoon.